Saturday, August 6, 2016

Star-Spangled Banner Quilter: Lisa Christensen

The Genea-Quilters Facebook Group is proud to recognize Lisa's contribution to the Star-Spangled Banner Quilt

Lisa considers herself a casual quilter of traditional designs. From the looks of her corners, I'd say Lisa is more than a casual quilter.

Lisa writes:
"I may have a War of 1812 veteran in my family, but I’m not sure. I have a step-great-great-great grandfather who has the same name as a man who fought with Churchill’s Company of Artillery. The War of 1812 veteran’s name was Chauncey Thomas, born in Connecticut. He received 160 acres of land in Knox county, Illinois via the Script Warrant Act of 1812, but was denied a pension. My Chauncey Thomas was also born in Connecticut and died in Michigan. I am eagerly awaiting the appearance of pension records for surnames beginning with T to see if my Chauncey fought in the War of 1812."

Challenges with WWII research prompted Lisa's interest in the 1812 Pension Digitization Project.
"There is no doubt that the Internet has changed research methods for genealogy. Digitized military records certainly would have made the search for information about Chauncey Thomas’ great-grandson, George E. Thomas, much easier. George was a much beloved half brother of my grandpa, Harvey Christensen. In December 1941, George decided to join the Army. He boarded a bus in Howell, Michigan and enlisted at Fort Custer on December 5, 1941– two days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was killed in action on August 17, 1944. Although my father and uncles remembered George’s visits while he was on leave from the Army, they knew very little about his service in the Army, including where he died. They each confidently offered a completely different location for George’s death: France, Africa and Italy.

I spent many years trying to identify the unit George fought in and learn where he died. I tried the obvious route:
  • Fill out Form 180 and ask the National Archives to provide the information. Their first response said they were unable to find any information concerning my request.

  • Reading the newspaper from George’s home town with the hope that I would find an article about his service or death. I found a photograph of the local men who were boarding the bus to enlist and a Card of Thanks from his family when he died, but no information about his service in the war.

  • I filled out Form 180 again, but this time I requested the information using the Freedom of Information Act. This time the response indicated that George’s service records may have been destroyed by the fire of July 12, 1973. Even if the had not been destroyed, the National Archives would only give copies of his file to specific next of kin. Unfortunately, George had no next of kin. They did extract a small amount of information and provided me with a death place: France. Although that settled the dispute between my Dad and his brothers, it still didn’t help me learn anything about his service.
I eventually learned about a document that could provide information about the unit he fought with. The National Archives in Maryland had Headstone Application records for veterans. This was the first time I was thankful that my family was too poor to purchase a headstone for George. I visited the National Archives during a trip to the Washington D.C. area to look for his Headstone Application.

After looking through several boxes containing the wrong set of applications and quickly running out of time, I finally received the correct box and found the application for George’s headstone. I finally had the information I was looking for. George fought with Company I of the 142nd Infantry regiment of the 36th Infantry division. After researching the movements of this unit, I learned that George had spent time in Africa, Italy and France. That explained the confusion between my Dad and Uncles. I also learned that his unit was located in La Muy, Var, Provence-Alpes-Côte D'Azur, France on the day he was killed. At last, my search was over.

In less than a year released an indexed, digitized database containing the Headstone Application records. Even though I had a copy of George E. Thomas’ Headstone Application, I couldn’t resist the urge to search for it at In less than two minutes I was able to accomplish a task that had taken me fourteen years to accomplish the old fashioned way."

Lisa chose to participate in this fundraising effort to support the War of 1812 Pension Digitization Project. "I am looking forward to viewing the War of 1812 pension file for Chauncey Thomas from the comfort of my home to determine if he is the same Chauncey Thomas who migrated to Michigan and was the great-grandfather of George E. Thomas."

The War of 1812 Pension files are among the most-requested record group as the National Archives.

It cost $0.45 per digitized page, $45 would normally digitize 100 pages, but with the matching funds assistance from it will digitize 200 pages. Your contributions can be made in the name of your ancestor.

Time is of the essence. These documents are fragile and need to be digitized quickly to preserve the best possible image of each page. 

Everyone who participated in its creation thus far is entered in the drawing to win the quilt. But wait! There's more!

There are still opportunities available to WIN this beautiful king-size, handmade quilt!

1. Submit an article about YOUR War of 1812 ancestor, or how using digitized military records has enhanced your own genealogy research. Articles should be a minimum of 250 words, and emailed by November 1, 2016 to

2. Donate via the Genea-Quilters PayPal account. Be sure to include your contact information! You may also use the Donate button on the side of this blog article.

Please share this with all of your friends, both online and off. We'd love this quilt to make a big difference towards preserving the War of 1812 pensions!

Every cent donated will go to the Preserve the Pensions fund. All costs related to making this gorgeous quilt were generously donated. The PayPal donation links are direct via

Click here to JOIN the Genea-Quilters Facebook Group.